"We descended from the trees with great deliberation. This was a development of intent. One of man's most basic desires is companionship with nature. It may be one of the greatest unstudied phenomena of our species; the trait of exploration is biologically & profoundly real." - David Suzuki
I slid into the hull with a quiet, uneasy anticipation. The belly of the beast lurched and creaked and moaned and gobbled me up. Red flared up in randomized synchronization around the rain and oil soaked metal floors underneath us. The reflection of brake lights off the uneasy ground resembled fluctuating audio levels in a recording studio. The white steel chassis and roof of the gargantuan sea menace relayed each sound with ominous doom echoes. French techno pulsed inside my car and turned off, "D-V-N-". As the door of my Jeep popped open with a muffled release I sucked in the noxious monoxides of the carbon variety and headed port stern for a sneaky beer. I love the ferry.
Winter ferries between the mainland across the Strait to Vancouver Island pass through the Gulf Islands and their hippy/dope enthusiast residents. Wolves & cougars, redwood & cedar, undulations of storm on the Pacific Rim. Viking's Paradise. This voyage is reminiscent of fording the fjords of Norway. Howling at the moon, with a whole leg of horse in one hand and a half drunk hag with healthy hips held in the other. Horned and hellishly so.
I really fucking love the ferry. Glug glug glug. hehehe.
I irked with myself, pining in the twilight for the snow to embrace it's motherland and cease it's dutifully silent southwards slipstream. "Go North you dastardly ill-fitting spigot." I hissed and spat at the water molecules, frozen in the flaked style, as they fluttered atop my head. I paused to embrace my fate.
"This is going to be epic." The beer spat out, developing a dangerous outlook on the desirability of camping conditions, "Solo hiking and squatting on the Juan de Fuca trail in winter is a great idea." Oh shit.
I have inherited the itchy foot gene from Sir Richard Martin. Whom, one day, about a thousand years ago decided to join Richard Lionheart and chase Muslims out of Spain. Except my crusade has less to do with murder and myth and misunderstanding. I have clinical hypersensitivity to Mondrian street configuration. The North-South, East-West, Alphabetical-Numerical Gotham City undertones of Vancouver in early December scares me. The lowest per capita income postal code in the nation is my neighbourhood. And being witness to The Needle and Pay by the Minute Hotels and Multi-layered Displacement is enough to make anyone flee.
The preferred nomenclature of what I craved was not solitude, no, what I needed was some companionship and realization of what is out there for those bold enough to find it.
Some people explain when asked about Death that they are not afraid of it. These people are foolish buffoons. Do not listen to them, they are a mockery of common sense.
What said populous does not entirely grasp is that it is perfectly natural to be afraid of death. It's normal. There might not be an afterlife. Or black. Or sound. Or anything at all. However, this phobia of ceasing nerve synapse or hung heartbeat should not be triumphed by our preternatural disposition to living. Simply, you must make more refined calculations.
I love mathematics. I spent 30 days memorizing & reciting the decimals of Pi during my final year of University. Pythagorean Theory is what I dream of during intercourse. I never went to camp as a child. My sister rode horses through Montana and danced to Jackson 5 songs surrounded by ephemerally milk-warm nights and bunked in heritage pine cabins with other wieners full of fastidiously stowed sugar treats. And I would pout my Augusts away because my parents steadfastly refused to send me to Math Camp. I fucking love pouting.
I enjoy prose and composition, but if I could write in binary code, I would tell love stories of robots in a post armageddon world that only CPUs would comprehend. 011101 01111010010000101001!
What I'm trying to say is I make calculated risks. And as long as Experience x Possibility of Injury is less than Death I generally go ahead with the hypotenuse or hypothalamus or what the hell was I saying?
So for 10 days of every 6 weeks I say, "Fuck stylish magazines, leather boots, overpriced vegetarian cuisine, wit, waterfront office spaces, planetariums and Expo 86." I get the itch. I get restless. I bark at things. Inanimate objects. I pace and fret and weep openly. I turn into the bastard child of humanity and run to the forests of our forefathers, like a french Canadian panhandler who ate too many mushrooms. It is a purpose for the rest of my life, for the work and the resumes and the references. They afford me the opportunity to be more of an animal.
I drove that old logging road along, across the two single lane bridges to a place where the surfing family, the Oke's, squatted for 20 years on Crown Land. And I imagined Jim Sadler, one of Canada's pioneers of surf, flying above me in his ultralight one-man, open concept plane. This spacecraft looked like what you fly in your dreams. The red wagon you had as a child with doglike wings. Sadler, and his cunning, studying the craggs, cliffs, chasms, and clefts of the Natural Flow of the Pacific Rim, cursing softly as the wind played with his fate. His surfboard attached to the roll bar as he scoured the surf from a couple miles above in the 1960s. Neoprene free and fucking insane.
As I planted the last of my gear down on the large and dominant flatstones of Sombrio Beach I fumbled my white and slippery and numb fingers up to my yellow rain slicker and yanked up on the zipper wishing it would go further than it's destined end at my nose. Oh well. It was 4 pm, my jeans looked like I had swum there from the mainland. And I had a huge grin on my face knowing that no one else was around for at least 20 kilometers. The car was well hidden and 5 kilometers or so away. I smiled again and started whetting my lips and mind for dehydrated meats and pemmican. As I squinted upriver through sheets of rain at where the mountains met the sea, I noted that the 80 foot long and 8 foot in diameter log that usually helped the hiker or surfer across to the designated campground was no longer there.
The day prior, our coast experienced it's highest tides in 19 years. Combined with massive flooding, I found myself naked in the woods at dusk scrambling into a wetsuit in order to attempt crossing the river.
I planted my bin of firewood atop my board and carried it underarm down the steep bank of the river. With slight trepidation I lunged into the river and braced myself for crossing. Splosh. The river was moving fast and I could hear the simultaneous suck and churn of cobblestones underfoot & the return of heavy hollow waves on top of them. Within 15 feet of crossing, I found myself being swept out to open sea with 20 firelogs drifting a half-mile ahead of me. In the direction of my fate I watched my warmth sacrificed to open water. I scrambled to the West Bank and shrugged off the misfortune, noting that that experience alone probably sprouted a few more facial hairs on my boyishly bare cheekbones.
So after a brief reprise of angst I returned to the East bank and bundled up my camping gear and shoes and wallet and car keys and pillow and food and entire life into a tarp. I hoisted those tarp-ed goods above my head and attempted a strong walk across the river. Within 4 feet of leaving the East bank my head was under water. It was twilight now (above the hydrosphere as well) and it was snowing.
About mid crossing I noted the sluggish feel of my backpack and the wet-like feel of my hands. "Snapdragon." I thought and finally spoke aloud as I approached the West riverbank when my head finally came above sea level. I unwrapped my treasured Stanley Cup of camping goods to notice that my shoes and car keys and wallet and socks were gone, my pillow resembled a sea lion and my sleeping bag a kelp forest.
I quickly set up my tent and shivered like a fetal creature borne unto Lamb and Elksblood. The formal vernacular for the onset of the condition I would be facing that night is Hypothermia.
Shoeless, fireless, and with wet gear, I finally decided to light my spot heater inside my tent, and to risk having a melted tarpaulin on my face. I attempted the Great Thaw. At the time, I would have compared the process to melting Baffin Island (including the rocks) with a flint stone from outer space. But it probably saved my life and I thought, after nearly singeing my face off, that it would make a real neat tale. Hot dog.
As the dark set in around 7 pm my stomach was making funny sounds at me. Squirts and bursts and rolling grumbles and licks of rebellious convulsion. Feeding time, "The Hour of Feast." I narrated to myself leading me to believe that maybe I should invite friends on my next trip. I rummaged through my rucksack, on my knees in puddles of freezing slush, I stopped thinking about cold. I imagined that my tent was like the Colosseum and my tummy was the apeshit lion and my Powerbar was the Muslim in this Christian war of Entertainment. Definitely, friends shall be invited to this magnificent event next time.
"This is a fucking Crusade!" I cawed.
But no food. I flicked on my spotlight and sprouted my head from the green and brown Dome of Wallow to note that griffon sized ravens were enjoying my protein folly on the East bank. I forgot my food not 200 feet away to be devoured by scavengers and majestic beasts of the air. Shazwozza.
Oh well, I still had some frijoles habaneros from my adventure through South America.
Gibble gobble chomp smack, yum yum. "Memories and excrement."
Basking in the warmth of beans in my gut I finished my book and stared contemplatively at the innards of my tent, lying on my side, smiling about the clever ending that Kurt Vonnegut created for me.
What a terrific man he was, my eyes shifted to the empty can of beans and dishes. He was able to pull so much information and thought out of every detail of life I thought to myself while hesitating to brave the barren cobble barefoot to scrub the dishes on the riverbank. Wit and beauty and power, his words and thoughts are tremendously useful. I love his work, it was almost enough to take my mind off of my current paltry state. My eyes shifted back to the lining of the thinset tent with my headlamp fixed atop my head.
Looking there, between the green and brown divide of tentwall colors, I noticed two curiously faded black dots fixated on my tent siding.
The tent sucked in around those two curious dots ever so slightly. Curiously and with undulating roar they pulled up the side of the tent. These two curious moving black dots were now making a sound similar to John Candy, but with more mucous and guttural and deeply intestinal anger and fangs. Those two curious black dots belonged to a large beast who, from what I could tell, was no longer curious. Only very large and very hungry for me.
That beast, as I stuck my headlamp on danceparty and grabbed my machete and hatchet, was two feet away from me divided only by about 1/100th of a millimeters worth of nylon.
I poked my head out the screened window and noted that the angry and large bear had a couple of smaller bears with her. I serenaded the quadruped mammalians with a primal scream edition of "Beat It" by Michael Jackson until they grew disinterested and lumbered into their quarters, leaving me to wrench and blister and wrap my raw hands around the hatchet handle for the remaining 12 hours of nightfall.
"The Threat of Extinction is a magnificent survival tactic." - OJC Runnalls
Posted by Jeffuardo at 28.11.07
Here's a pic of a double-winged 5'10" x 21" twin keel pure balsawood fish with cedar & balsa glass-ons from Ecuadorean shaper, Cesar Moreira. Modern rocker, foil, rails, and fins combined with a stylistic & shapely past.
Custom made, 4 day job, this board is fair trade and made from sustainably harvested Ecuadorean balsa.
Rides like: A fast, deep carving, and lively beast of the sea.
Smells like: Treehugger pride/Nature/Gypsy Sweat.
The balsa bone is connected to: The beard bone.
Salud para las olas and welcome.
I have been furiously working on setting up a green surf products distribution company for the Pacific Northwest.
Of course, it's all a modest & mellifluous cover for 20 pounds of Moroccan Blonde I have coming in on a nuclear submarine from North Africa. But here is what my front will be offering and building to in the near future:
1.) Sustainable surfboards: Boards that are of equal or better durability to the traditional polyurethane foams used. Superior quality and shape; the boards will be mainly fish and eggs because I'm kind of old school. And I see you're pretty old school, too. Single fins, twin keels, and even some quads.
Other shapers work with epoxy's and new foams of varying quality and even carbon fibre. But they are still very harmful to the environment; littering the Ocean and Landfills from the East Indies to East Van. Their factory produced boards will not match up in terms of design to the slowly and meticulously produced (only 1 per week) balsa blanks, limited edition series, and custom boards I will be hand delivering.
The products offered for now include Balsa and other ecologically managed woods from family owned farms in Ecuador. Balsawood has the highest strength to weight ratio (durable and light) of all commercially available woods in the world. Balsa grain is somewhat spottled and carries sweeping formations of light brown overtones on over its milk & tea colored constant. It looks awesome under your tootsies. It also grows like a mutant. 8 years and it's ready to be harvested. 30 years and it's old growth size.
One of my shapers has been working with Balsa for 14 years. He is an Ecuadorean longboard champ, Huntington Beach medalist, and proponent of retro shapes with forward-thinking advancements. His Skip Frye inspired designs have won shape awards in the UK. The boards are bought under legitimate fair trade conditions as to ensure the proper development of Ecuadorean economy and artisanship.
Additionally, former shipbuilder turned hollow balsa/cork/recycled foams fish shaper and SF resident, Danny Hess, has expressed interest in some Pacific Northwest representation. Danny has had three (3!) mentions in recent surf mags about his craftsmanship. Dan Malloy works closely with Danny on shapes and they are some of the most beautiful looking logs I have ever seen. They are absurdly fast and reactive. One of Danny's personal mantras about board construction in relation to sustainability is that if a board lasts for generations, rather than months, it is intrinsically sustainable and better for the environment.
And this is a major tenet of our company as well. Durability, penultimate quality, legacy boards, progressive creativity, and legitimacy.
In the future we are looking to find some shapers working with Biofoam (a recycled foam mixture) as well, for all wave sliders who love the springy and pliable flex pattern of modern foams.
The boards will be sold in the same style that I bought mine. Test it, love it, buy it (lend it out for referral program rebates).
I have 8 different designs coming up to Canada in March. The balsa is drying right now.
Note for those wondering, "why balsa?"
In December of 2005 Clark Foam closed down. Clark was the most reputable distributor of blank foams to be used for shapers. However, he was shut down by the US for a small myriad of pollutant problems. His product was so good, that he supplied upwards of 85% of the entire US surf production industry with their products. Now he doesn't exist. And no other foam producer has been able to get up to his quality in foam production. If you wish to dispute this grab a copy of the recent Surfer's Path magazine and check out what the shapers say about dissapointment in current foam blanks. Or, in summation, if you are riding a foam board, produced in 2006 or 2007 you are on inferior product.
2 .) Petroleum reduced wetsuits: Patagonia has been developing a line of wetsuits which have virtually no distribution in the Pacific Northwest. We would love to set up some channels for them because their products are sick. You thought you need a 5 millimetre westuit here? 3 millimetre is fine in Patagonia's merino wool lined suits. Still in prototype mode, we would love to get these little babies in the water as soon as they sew some hoods on them. They are 80% petroleum reduced and trying to eliminate petroleum completely.
Patagonia and the founder, Yvon Chouinard, helped start the coalition "1% for the Planet"; devoting 1% of total sales to non-profit NGOs (or about 10% of total profits). They have been doing this since '85. And we would like to make a similar contribution.
3.) Art, books, magazines, movies, music and photography. We are welcoming submissions from local artists as a free hosting site and gallery for their creations.
Leashless, healthy, and a board & art gallery in Vancouver. For now, keep your frontal lobes in tuned to the fetch window of the Pacific Rim, and your fingers occasionally checking out tarpcitygypsies.blogspot.com
Posted by Jeffuardo at 17.11.07
I've bid adieu to my wonderfully compliant business-school brethren, and a society where there is distinguished disjunction between The Arts of work & leisure and love & religion and family & friends.
I am now turning to the temperate rain forests of the Pacific Islands of British Columbia. I am turning to the pen and typewriter, I am turning to free trade balsa surfboards and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, I am turning to cold weather camping and cinematographer & photographer Bryant Bell, I am turning in prayer of dangerous winter swell and in praise of all of those people and organizations devoted to protecting the Oceans.
And it feels like God is giving me a big fucking hi-5.
And punctuating that hi-5 with an understated and modest, "boom."
Follow myself and Bry in the chronicle of developing a green surf product distribution company from the Pacific Northwest.
Here is my annotated resume:
Coyote Cry (Moonwards)
Vertical Leap: 33 inches
Wingspan: Golden Eagle
Pi Decimal Memorization (Peak: 50 digits, Current: 22 digits)
Jacques Cousteau Admiration
Aeronautical Navigation (General)
Experimental Facial Hair Cultivation
Tarp City Gypsy
Fear the bush at your local break. Deep in the woods on Crown Lands Bry will be stewing and brewing the most coveted of all beer can coffee in the Haida Gwaii. And myself, machete in palm, will be waiting, stalking. Hunting the most dangerous game of all, pemmican and other dried meats. Crouched and damp under a series of green tarps you will find two roustabouts who are sophisticated and versed in the sinewy chasms of the Pacific Rim forests.
Hunting jackets, tree climbing, vennison, flannel, driftwood, space heaters, marine rope, twin keels, soul arches, bottom turns, 5 millimeter neoprene, facial hair, smoke, longhouses, sweat shacks, spirit bears, shipbuilders, kelp forests, sea lions, Cascadian mountains, swallowtail sliding, Far East fetches, shaping bays, hand planers, machetes, hatchets, Coleman stoves, and dutch ovens.
Posted by Jeffuardo at 14.11.07